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Still no sign of BCG until next year

However, Dr Corcoran pointed to the low incidence of TB in the country. She also noted that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, of which she is a member, and HIQA have both recommended that the BCG vaccine does not need to be given routinely to babies in Ireland.

There is currently a worldwide shortage of the vaccine.

“Consequently, BCG vaccination clinics in HSE clinics and maternity hospitals have been postponed until new stock arrives,” Minister for Health Simon Harris told the Dáil last month.

“When there is confirmation of the date of new supply, a decision will be made, guided by the recommendations of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, on who should be prioritised to receive the vaccine.

“In Ireland, the number of cases of TB has been falling. TB is a notifiable disease under the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI No 276 of 2016),” he added. 

“In 2015, 318 cases of TB were notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, giving a national TB notification rate of 6.9 per 100,000, the lowest rate reported since surveillance commenced. 

“According to the World Health Organisation, the definition of a low-incidence TB country is one with a national TB notification rate of less than 10 cases per 100,000 — Ireland is in this category. 

“The risk to babies remains unchanged, even allowing for delay in getting BCG vaccine in Ireland.”

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